I write to you in response to an article that appeared in Investment Magazine titled, Is a Hippocratic Oath for fund managers required?
The article outlined the potential need for an oath that aims to tackle the issue of ethics and behaviour, rather than through regulation, in order to improve the trust in, and reputation of, the industry.
Whether it is justified or not, there is a perception the banking and finance industry has a reputation for being unethical, and that is something we are looking to change with an industry-wide initiative that aims to rally support for raising ethical standards.
The Banking and Finance Oath (BFO) was formed by a group of like-minded leaders in the banking and finance industry in conjunction with St James Ethics Centre, who feel strongly about both leading by example as well as supporting high ethical standards.
The establishment of such an initiative is clearly an ambitious goal – but not one without precedent and more importantly, has emerged in response to a ‘felt need’. By volunteering to take this oath and be accountable to your peers we hope to establish a foundation of trust in the industry, both internally and in terms of public perception, and we aim to use the BFO as a tool to drive greater emphasis on individual accountability for decision-making across the industry and hopefully in due course, help shape the industry and its relationship with society.
The message is simple – we’re encouraging individuals who work in the banking and finance industry to commit to an oath that sets ethical standards that they agree to apply to the principles of their work.
The oath is individual, and because of this, it neither binds nor represents the views of those who employ its signatories.
As part of the BFO initiative, we have formed a policy review panel to make behaviour that is deemed to be unethical, or unacceptable. And while this is not meant to act in a regulatory sense, the review committee can choose to remove signatories or further broadcast behaviour that is outside of the spirit of the BFO. As is suggested in the article, the aim of this oath and its review panel too, is to improve behaviour from the grass roots individual level, rather than just through regulation.
We hope that the small steps created by the BFO initiative will to lead to progress in ensuring unethical behaviour in the industry is not publicly accepted and is minimised as a result.
To commit to The BFO, people must sign-up to each element. This can be done through the BFO’s website at www.thebfo.org. By promising to abide by the principles of the BFO, signatories agree to respect the position of trust accorded to them by society.
Signatories join like-minded peers as thought leaders in their industry. As the number of BFO Signatories increases, our plan is to engage our community of banking and finance professionals through networking events and other activities that encourage and support ethics in the industry.